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This Year's Success Story?

(Interview With Adam Russell Taken From Black Velvet 41 - Aug 2004)

By Laura Fitzgerald

For evidence of the power of internet downloading, the BPI and RIAA need look no further than STORY OF THE YEAR's sold out UK jaunt to support the low key release of their major label debut 'Page Avenue'. With more and more people than ever buying albums on import, recommending bands to transatlantic friends and downloading albums on filesharing programs, it is no surprise that the buzz about Story Of The Year has finally reached these shores, especially given their success in America.





There, considerable MTV and radio airplay of single 'Until The Day I Die' as well as relentless touring (including a high profile Linkin Park support slot) have steadily built the band's profile, culminating in an Alternative Press cover feature and headline slot on this year's Warped Tour.

With the USA well and truly smitten, world domination is surely next on the list. Black Velvet caught up with bassist Adam Russell on a gorgeously sunny day in Manchester; prior to the band's second ever show outside of the United States. Backstage at the tiny Academy 3, Adam explained that although the internet has undoubtedly helped get them where they are today, he can see the positive and negative sides of the illegal downloading debate.
"There is definitely a line to be drawn. I mean it obviously helps a lot. We might not have the kind of attendance we have at our shows had we not been downloaded millions of times, but it's stealing regardless as far as I'm concerned. I download music and I go to Amazon.com and listen to streaming audio and get samples, but if I love a band, even if I just like a band a little bit I buy the record. I want to support the bands because if you don't buy records bands won't be around. With the Apple music stuff now, if you just want one song you can go and spend 99 cents and get one song. I mean it's not expensive, especially for music as far as I'm concerned.

The bassist's most recent purchases include 'Get A Grip' by Aerosmith (one of the first bands he ever saw live,) some Pantera and Metallica, "The first record I ever bought outside of what my parents listen to". A huge Metallica fan, tonight's show even features a surprisingly accurate cover of 'Enter Sandman' for the encore, complete with over the top rock star posturing and mass crowd surfing from both band and audience.
"We're all big metalheads," confesses Adam. "We tried to get Sebastian Bach from Skid Row to sing on 'Page Avenue' but he was doing Phantom Of The Opera or something like that". Despite failing to enlist the vocal talents of the temperamental 80's frontman, 'Page Avenue' does however feature a collaboration with Toby Morse from H2O on the album's closer, 'Falling Down', the most 'punk' cut on the full length. Fans of this track will be blown away by new song 'The Heart Of Polka Is Still Beating' which is available for download at Story Of The Year's website. Definitely worth checking out.

Also worth taking a good look at online is the entertaining PETA website www.peta2.com, visitors to which may recognise the bassist from his extensive work with the animal rights group, alongside bands such as Good Charlotte and Simple Plan. We asked vegan straightedge Adam about getting involved with PETA and the recent (Black Velvet reviewed) Concert For Compassion, and although it transpired animal rights is not a cause uniting all of the members of Story Of The Year, it is certainly a cause Russell himself holds very close to his heart.

How big a part does animal rights play in the band?

"A pretty small part. I'm the only vegan or vegetarian so it's kinda hard. I hang out by myself a lot, eating at vegetarian restaurants, stuff like that."
How did you get involved with PETA?

"They approached me. Actually I have a friend that up until a couple of weeks ago worked at PETA and he always tries to keep me in the loop with them."

How much do you think the Concert For Compassion helped the Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty cause?

"It was all non-profit; no-one got paid anything. It was all charity to raise money to shut down Huntington. I think it definitely helps but it seems like it's just a never ending uphill battle, but everything helps a little bit, it just takes time."

Adam has also been on protests with Black Velvet favourite John Feldmann of Goldfinger, who produced 'Page Avenue', helped get Story Of The Year signed and took them on their first national tour. Feldmann probably regretted offering the band a support slot after the Missouri quintet decided to 'enhance' the headliners set a few weeks into the tour.

"I took a full pack of firecrackers and threw it underneath Darrin while he was playing drums. It was at the quietest possible part in the whole set and they went off and went through all the microphones. John was freaking out; he thought the PA blew up or something. Darrin thought it was hilarious but once John found out he was pissed because he's a real control freak when it comes to their shows. He almost kicked us off the tour, but I apologised and we laughed about it."

Not that Goldfinger's live shows need any 'enhancing' of course. Neither do Story Of The Year's for that matter. 'Page Avenue' sounds ten times bigger live, even the most high tech of studio equipment failing to capture just how powerful and anthemic the tracks sound onstage. 'Until The Day I Die' and 'Sidewalks' inspire mass crowd singalongs that would put Dashboard Confessional to shame. It's amazing how loud (and in tune) the 400 strong audience can sing!

It's not just the songs that are impressive onstage. Lively, charismatic and for want of a better word… fun, all five members prove just why they consider themselves more of a live band; amp climbing, instrument swapping, crowd surfing, even crowd surfing whilst playing guitar! All of this plus enough running around onstage to make you dizzy just watching. However, such an energetic live show does not come without a price, the band collecting an impressive range of injuries. Adam explains, "I tore ligaments in my ankle, Ryan has really bad shin splints that won't go away, and Phil has a torn hamstring. We always hit each other with our instruments, we're always hurt, it sucks."

Health prevailing, Story Of The Year plan to return to the UK again later this year before starting work on the new album, studio time pencilled in for January 2005. The way things are going at the moment it can only be a matter of time before the Story Of The Year play venues and festivals they have only ever read about in Metallica biographies!

Visit www.storyoftheyear.net for more info.



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